Her Sovran Shrine

I’ve been listening to The Cure for a very long time.

My first awareness of them as a band came with the video for “Just Like Heaven,” memorably seen on a television in a mall display window for whatever shop was next door to Alamo Music at Windsor Park Mall, back when it was the place to be. Back when it was a place, as a matter of fact. (It’s since been converted to the headquarters for Rackspace.)

But I digress.

The Cure is brought up because they and their music are often used as the butt of a joke for depression. Look no further than Better than Ezra’s 1993 album Deluxe and its track “Teenager”:

Wrap yourself in black / Listen to The Cure

“Teenager” by Better than Ezra

And then there was this skit from MTV’s Half-hour Comedy Hour:

Robert Smith 1-900 Parody from MTV’s Half-hour Comedy Hour, circa 1990

All of this is brought up to not just to further magnify the GOAT band that The Cure is but to show that, when it comes to recognizing depression, I’m pretty good at it. Recognizing my own depression, that is.

Though I’ve never been diagnosed by a medical doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist, the symptoms have been manifest in me for as long as I can remember. I’ve seen it in other family members, too, both those older and younger than myself, so I know it’s not just a me thing. So The Cure really has naught to do with it for me, but it seemed like as good of a segue as any, so here we are.

Still couple of months shy of my 49th birthday, I’ve been feeling myself slipping into a deep bout of depression. Yes, things have grown infinitely more complicate over the past 30+ years since I first became cognizant of what depression feels like, but those 30+ years have also helped become more aware of myself and when things don’t feel “just right.”

You need to find time to take care of you.

Everybody, when I mention an inkling of what’s on my plate.

Getting into cycling, running, triathlon—becoming (somewhat) of an athlete, I guess—has been infinitely beneficial. It has not only made me more aware of what feels “just right” and when anything is even slightly off, be it physical or mental. However, part of the infinite complications in life has been finding the time to cycle or run—there’s simply no time to race, these days, especially triathlon. Taking care of me often has to get put to the proverbial back burner because there is no one else who can do what needs to be done. Ironically, this compounds my depression, my helplessness, my hopelessness because this is my life.

Yet all is not lost.

While it still inconveniences me at having to juggle a schedule based on the ever-changing wants & needs of others, I’m still & often able to carve out some time to do something. Sometimes it means a long, lonely session on the bike trainer or an even longer, lonelier ride outside, or a run on darkened roads because it’s simply too hot or humid or something to run when it’s light out, but it’s always after everyone else’s needs have been met. If it’s to be before, it’s because everyone else is still asleep.

Like today.

Because it’s now summer, it means my favorite race, El Chupacabra de San Antonio, is coming up—third Friday in July, just like always. Unlike always, though, I’ll not be running in it to be competitive, but I will run.

And, just like the past few years, I’ve begun doing pre-race runs in the park in the wee hours of the morning, with a guy I met through Strava who has become a good friend and running companion—despite his puncturing his shoe and his foot on his first running of El Chupacabra and how I always seem to trip him when we trail run in the dark, even if I’m in front by several feet. It’s a gift, what can I say?

A— and I met up this morning for a pre-dawn run around the Blue Loop at McAllister Park where we chatted about life, the universe, everything since we don’t get to see and/or run with one another as often. But it was a good run, a good conversation, and a good reassurance that none of us are alone no matter what it is we’re going through. Because we’re all going through something, relatively speaking.

Get the Balance Right by Depeche Mode

For me, multisport has and continues to be a positive outlet to—well, to borrow from Depeche Mode, get the balance right. No matter how low I’ve gotten, a solid ride or run can usually refocus me. I liken it to a splash of cold water or a slap across the face. It’s just enough to bring me back to where I’m needed.

Despite, for lack of a better term, exercise’s physical & mental benefits, I am all too aware that it doesn’t work for everyone every time. The death of Robin Williams serves as too-stark of a reminder that sometimes, we need something more than to just ride our bikes. Sometimes we need something, someone more.

So I just tuck that away, knowing that if there ever comes a day where I’m the exact same after a ride as I was before, it’s time to get help. Fortunately, I’m not there, yet—and I hope you’re not, either.

Nearly twenty(!) years ago, The Cure released DVDs of a concert performed in Berlin, consisting of their three “dark” albums, Pornography, Disintegration, and Bloodflowers. The release was aptly titled The Cure: Trilogy and featured the three albums played in the entirety for one incredible show. (Indeed, seeing/hearing the whole of Disintegration performed live gave new appreciation, admiration, and love of “The Same Deep Water as You”.)

But before the first note of “One Hundred Years” resounds or the the opening credits track “100 Seconds” resonates, a quote from John Keats’s “Ode on Melancholy” appears on-screen:

Screenshot from The Cure: Trilogy (2003) of excerpt from Keats’s “Ode on Melancholy”

It’s a reminder for me to be aware of myself and all that dwells within, “veil’d” or exposed.

Thanks for reading.

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